Not long ago as I left home for scheduled appointments, I noticed Gary talking with a local landscaper. As part of Gary’s Home Owners Association presidential responsibilities, he assesses the trees within our development for health and growth with an expert.

As Gary and others walked through the neighborhood evaluating the trees, it became evident many of these woody perennials needed attention.

Trim – make (something) neat or of the required size or form by cutting away irregular or unwanted parts.

Within a few days, the needy trees in the development received a trimming. The expert tree trimmer offered instruction to explain the necessary tree trim procedure. Trimming promotes healthy growth. Each time a cut is made, growth is stopped in one direction and encouraged in another. Sometimes pruning is necessary to remove unnecessary branches in order to improve the tree’s form, offering structural integrity, and reduce risk of poor health. Removing dead branches also offers increased light and air penetration inside the tree in addition to the landscape below.

Trees stay more healthy when dead, diseased, pest-ridden, and/or rubbing together branches are removed. I’m especially pleased with some of the trimming as the branches on the trees beside our home have scraped the exterior on windy and stormy days causing disturbed sleep. I look forward to sleeping through the next storm. :—)

Trim – make (something) neat or of the required size or form by cutting away irregular or unwanted parts.

The Bible offers the metaphor of a vine with branches to describe the disciples spiritual life.

Jesus described himself as the true vine and God, the Father, as the gardener. You might say, the expert tree trimmer in my neighborhood represents God. He identifies what remains healthy and what does not. Because of God’s sovereign and good character, He often trims and prunes from our lives those things which are irregular and unnecessary. God wants health for each of us, which means He also prunes what is healthy to foster deep, mature growth.

Removing irregular branches increases the integrity of the tree by improving its form and balance. Likewise, our Christian integrity improves as God forms His disciples to look like Him. This means cutting out those attitudes and actions which reflect a worldly mindset rather than Godly living. The apostle Paul describes these in many of his letters to the churches in the New Testament world. A lifestyle of selfishness, pride, greed, envy, apathy, gossip, anger, self-righteousness, and unforgiveness reveals misshapen and malformed hearts. These irregular branches must be pruned by God in order to be formed by Him, developing balance to more rightly reflect Him to the world.

Which irregular branches do you notice in your life?

Unnecessary branches don’t belong; they are unproductive. Jesus states in John 15 that God “cuts off every branch…that bears no fruit…” God removes the dead branches in our lives; areas that exhibit death and disease rather than life and love. These branches are unnecessary and possibly even detrimental to our health and growth. The removal of these branches cuts to the core and challenges our attachments.

What are you attached to? Are you attached to the things the world offers, or the things God offers? To bring focus, consider where you spend your time, money, and mental energy. These unnecessary branches distract from the health of our lives and give a false sense of well-being. The tree might look full and strong, but many diseased limbs fill the space. Perhaps these unnecessary branches symbolize the idols in our lives such as success, beauty, study, power, knowledge, and service.

Identify an unnecessary branch God is pruning from your life?

In His teaching Jesus continued by saying that “every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” These are strong and healthy branches. In our lives these branches exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, the gifts and calling of God, as well as the Gospel. Nevertheless, by God’s design giving a trim to these limbs causes greater growth and more fruit bearing. Becoming more fruitful involves removing buds that would become new shoots so that the number of buds remains monitored and improved fruit quality and production occur. Nutrients then intentionally flow producing fruit of substantial character and flavor.

If the tree or vine lived with a nervous system, I believe the trimming, although necessary, would be painful. Consider God’s trimming in your life. When our lives experience a necessary trim, suffering and discomfort often accompany the process. Do you feel the pain of a trim? Don’t lose hope.

Trim – make (something) neat or of the required size or form by cutting away irregular or unwanted parts.

Jesus declared the good news that as we remain in Him, abide with Him, and live in Him, we will bear much fruit. This brings glory to God, the Father, demonstrating the vitality of His disciples. Trimming the tree or the vine opens space between branches to allow greater sunlight exposure thus nourishing the leaves, branches, trunk, and soil.

Let the light of the Son infiltrate your life as you live as a branch connected to and thriving from the vine of Jesus Christ.

Taste and see the goodness of the Lord as He yields delicious, juicy, and healthy fruit from your life to share with others.

Drips from the Word: Muse about these Bible verses. Let these truths impact your living.

John 15:5-8

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

John 15:9-10

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

Splashes from the Spigot: Drink from deep wells. Read these recommended books to fill your soul.

Bruce Wilkinson. Secrets of the Vine: Breaking Through to Abundance. . Sisters, OR. 2001.

Laura Naiver. Remaining in the Vine: Cultivating an Intimate Relationship with Jesus in an Insanely Busy and Superficial World. .. Coward, SC. 2014.

Sprinklings of Truth: Soak in meaningful songs. Check out these music videos to lift up your spirit.

Keith Green. He’ll Take Care of the Rest.

David Crowder Band. How He Loves.